After a countywide search, the hunt for the Hampshire Poet 2020 is over. Kathryn Bevis from Winchester was selected from a very strong field of writers from all over Hampshire who applied for the sought-after post.
The appointment of the Hampshire Poet takes place every two years and this time has been led by Hampshire Cultural Trust and the Winchester Poetry Festival, a new partnership between the two organisations that brings a higher profile and new opportunities for the role.
A poet and educator, Kathryn read English at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, and is founder of The Writing School in Winchester. She also hosts a Poetry for Wellbeing project for service users of the charity Mind, funded by Arts Council England. Her recent awards include being shortlisted for the Nine Arches Press Primers Scheme, winning first prize in the Poets and Players competition, third prize in the Welshpool Poetry Festival competition and runner-up in the Out-Spoken Prize for Poetry. On January 18 2020, she was announced as the winner of the Against the Grain poetry competition with her poem, starlings.
On the news of her appointment, Kathryn commented: ‘I’m delighted to accept the role and will work my hardest to advocate for poetry and poets in Hampshire. It will be wonderful to work in closer collaboration with both the Winchester Poetry Festival and Hampshire Cultural Trust and I’m very excited about the opportunities on offer.’
The position of Hampshire Poet provides the opportunity for a Hampshire-based poet to undertake commissions, lead workshops and give readings and talks throughout the county, as well as acting as an advocate for poetry and poets. Opportunities have been identified throughout 2020 for the Hampshire Poet to play a significant role, providing the chance to create new work, engage members of the community and connect to planned activities taking place across Hampshire during the year.
Stephen Boyce, poet and chair of the Winchester Poetry Festival, said: ‘I’m delighted in this appointment. Kathryn is extremely talented and has the energy and imagination to make a huge success of her laureateship. I’m confident that she will raise the profile of poetry and poets in the county and that this will be a turning point in her own career as a poet.’
Deborah Neubauer of Hampshire Cultural Trust added: ‘We are thrilled that Kathryn has been appointed and are very much looking forward to working with her over the coming months in the cultural projects that we run with groups and communities throughout the county.’
Robyn Bolam, Hampshire Poet 2018, commented: ‘I welcome Kathryn to the role of Hampshire Poet and hope she will find the experience as enjoyable and as fulfilling as I did. She is a talented poet and workshop leader with a great deal to offer to all the county’s poets and poetry lovers. I’m sure poetry in Hampshire will continue to thrive with her help.’